An inconvenient nude: why ‘skin colour’ is not a neutral tint is

With nude clothing mean designers the color that merges with your skin. Correction: with one particular skin. And so is being nude a eye-catching color instead of a neutral tint for those who most deviate from them. Enter for discussion.

Aki: bikini by Cali Dreaming, silk blouse from Totème. Anne-Laure: bra from DKNY of Inno, blouse from See by Chloe, via Mytheresa. Transparent pants of Léo. Marie-France: slip of Rouje. Lisa: silk dressing gown from Michelle Mason, body by Wolford, lace bra from Intimissimi. Natasha: slip of Marc O’Polo, bra from Princesse tam.tam via Inno © Klaartje Lambrechts

Nude. Naked. The bare skin. What do you find to mind when you try this to visualize? The way your skin is glowing when your favourite body lotion have made. The fold of a lachrimpel, the structure of scars, or goose bumps of pleasure, a starry sky of sproetjes or a layer of fuzz. Your skin is your cocoon, your largest organ and your most personal case.

There is no color or texture that your skin will ever approach and try a lot of players in the fashion world there is a universal concept. Because although the word nude implies that the shade should correspond with the color of your skin, nude, according to Pantone the RGB values 244/213/187, a kind of kalksteenroze that for only 16% of the world’s population actually matches the colour they have on their own arms and abdomen looks.

Whose flesh?

It is that sixteen percent targeted is when lingeriewinkels a nude section with a beige bra’s establishment. That sixteen percent that, without thinking, plasters, patches, sticks, shiny tights bears in the off-season and without any problems concealer gets at the drugstore. They who are not offended names to the nude trend, when designers make their dresses topped with champagnekleur, and that to the perzikkleurige pencil in the box refer with the word ‘flesh’, even though Crayola is the name of the tint already in 1962 of ‘flesh’ to ‘peach’.

Aki: reversible bikini by Cali Dreaming, mohairen cardigan from Acne Studios via Mytheresa. Natasha: mohairen cardigan from Tatà, sides lingerieset of Ophelia. © Klaartje Lambrechts

The problematic aspect of the word nude got for the first time a platform while Michelle Obama, in 2010, the Indian prime minister greeted in a dress by designer Naeem Khan who through the international press described as ‘flesh-toned’. “Whose flesh, exactly?” was the reaction on social media upon seeing the pictures of the brown Michelle in the contrasting marmerkleurige japon. “The industry has me so gebrainwasht that the word nude is never related to have brought with skin color, at least not with mine,” wrote a Twitter user as a result of the incident. “For me it was nude a kind of pale pink. Only now my eyes are open and I see how limiting this all is.”


The industry has me so gebrainwasht that the word nude is even never in context have brought with skin color, at least not with mine.

By nude pinning it to a fixed color, do you immediately have a value judgment: this is the norm, this is how it should be. A hue that is used for products that seamlessly should blend into your skin, is just a striking color for those who are the most different. It is a stigma, a label. “You may not correspond with the common tone.”

Until the end of 2015, the Us Merriam-Webster dictionary the definition of nude is adapted to “(1): having a color as pale beige or tan) that matches the wearer’s skin tones” ; “(2): giving the appearance or nudity.” Until just three years ago, the definition “having the color of a white person’s skin.” It was Luis Torres, who at that time at Ithaca College, studied that this change has been brought about through a large-scale campaign on social media.

“That even academic sources the idea that light skin is more relevant and valuable forward, is devastating for people of color,” said Torres at the time. “Language is how we communicate with each other, and when words have a certain exclusivity to carry with them they can be offensive and harmful.”

Eggshell or maroon

Natasha: bra from Eres, organza dress from Forte Forte. Anne-Laure= lace bra from Eres, halterbeha of Ophelia, skirt from A. F. Vandevorst vintage. Marie-France: asymmetrical bikini by Cali Dreaming, rolkraagtrui of Léo. © Klaartje Lambrechts

“I have never been a ‘nude’ garment found that even comes close to my own skin color,” says Marie-France Vodikulwakidi, which is a model for this shoot. “I have a marketing degree, so I always try to think about the motives of large companies behind certain productiekeuzes. The exclusion of such a large part of the population can only have to do with the idea that people with this skin tone are not interesting for the market, that they are not considerable spending power,” said Vodikulwakidi. “A lack of diversity in the product range shows also a lack of diversity in the people who are in key positions in that company sit. That is one of the reasons that the change is so slow to get going.”


By nude pinning it to one fixed color, do you immediately have a value judgment: this is the norm, this is how it should be

Although there is steadily something changes. In 2016 began the popular online retailer Asos underwear indielabel Nubian Skin to sell (nude underwear in different shades), and also the sports fashion brand Björn Borg launched a ondergoedcollectie in six different skin tones, based on the official huidtypeschema of Fitzpatrick. With their ‘Six shades or human’ the label wants to make clear that they discriminate on the basis of skin color the world want to help.

Already in 2013 had luxelabel Christian Louboutin that are huidkleurige pumps no longer, as such, could be described as not additional shades to the range would add. The ‘Nude Collection’ of Louboutin now has seven colors of eggshell on amber to maroon. “The pumps are meant to make your legs optically, to extend, that is not when the color of the leather contrasts well with your skin.”

“A state of being’

A ballet dancer Aki Saito, also a model in this shoot, describes how this optical process, also in her sport plays a role. “Ballet is all about long, beautiful lines with your body and your limbs.” She describes how all the dancers have their own cream-colored satin pointes paints so they blend seamlessly in their own skin color to the lines, and even longer to make. “I see this not as a problem, everyone does it and it is a beautiful process, your dogs own, just as you make other changes to add so that they are better to your feet.” Her colleague, Eric Underwood, who at the London’s Royal Ballet is dancing, found that paint, however, annoying. In a viral video showing how he balletschoenen for each performance must have coloring with dark brown powder he called for manufacturers to pointes in his skin. Manufacturer Bloch listened and crafted shoes in darker shades.

Lisa: sides lingerieset of Eres, silk dressing gown Totème. Natasha: transparent bomber of Léo, asymmetrical bikini by Cali Dreaming. Aki: bra from Intimissimi, skirt of Cali Dreaming, organza dress from Forte Forte. © Klaartje Lambrechts

In a diverse world where discrimination is increasingly publicly denounced through social media, it is only logical that the fashion industry follows – and that is just to not wipe out the pan. But more than an expansion of the range is called to the word “nude” is completely off the color palette to be banned. “Nude is a state of being, not a color”, sounds the criticism. After all, there is no way that a color, your skin color will be able to access and the concept creates only confusion.

Just as in the make-upindustrie, where foundation with names such as ivory, desert sand and espresso, the world is sent, the fashion world would benefit from more extensive vocabulary when describing (skin)colors arrive. Because let us be honest: that nude is there anyway to also just came in because it beige what is more exciting would be the sound?

Photographer: Klaartje Lambrechts

Fotoassistent: Lotte Hendrickx

Make-up: Kim Maes

Styling: Christine Van Laer

Stylingassistent: Delphine Dumoulin

Marie-France: oversized shirt in katoengabardine of Balenciaga via Mytheresa. Special lingerie set from Maison Lejaby. Anne-Laure: solid body, the Cali Dreaming, lace body (bottom) of Eres. © Klaartje Lambrechts

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